Data-driven information is the new currency. We can objectively measure just about everything. The problem isn’t that we don’t have access to data; we have access to ALL the data. The challenge is turning that data into valuable business information that tells the story of your business. Knowledge may be power, but too much data can leave us feeling overwhelmed, and if it’s not turned into valuable information, we can feel it has no business value.
Data has changed the way we engage with the world. Think about going to your doctor. Once upon a time, you’d go with a list of symptoms to get an educated, professional opinion. We trusted medical professionals to bring their years of training and experience to bear in treating us. These days, doctors rely on objective data after sending patients for rafts of tests. It’s not a bad thing. Technology has given us tremendous medical advances – but our trust has shifted from people to information.
The key is getting the relevant information in the right amounts. Take health apps, for example. They’re finely tuned to gather data, giving you enough info to motivate but not enough to overwhelm.
What’s the deal with data?
Businesses are at the coalface of the information revolution. They know they need to embrace this new age but have no idea where to start and what data to gather. Once they have the data, they find it difficult to turn it into information that tells their business’s objective story.
A recent article in HBR explores a few of the pitfalls faced by businesses of all sizes as they become data-driven.
Consumer demands leave businesses with little choice but to join the information age. From optimising blogs to Google Analytics, it’s impossible to do business without data.
The catch for most business owners is figuring out what they need and getting it in a way that works for them, not against them. More data isn’t necessarily better. You want to be able to look at your business objectively, but there comes the point of data overload, leaving you with “analysis paralysis”.
What data do you need?
Not all data is helpful. The key to getting the correct data for you and making the most of the numbers is understanding why you need them in the first place.
The purpose of data is to tell your business’s objective story. If you don’t know the story your business is telling you, you’ll never really have peace of mind. Without numbers, you’ll play an ongoing guessing game, and it’s exhausting.
Numbers can be scary. Most of my clients initially don’t want to hear the story the numbers are telling. But as challenging as it may appear, fumbling around in the dark and hoping for the best is worse!
With the correct information, you’ll see where you’ve been and where you are now. In addition, the right combination of data points will help you plan for the future and help keep you on track to achieve your development goals.
Take back control
Metrics are there to spur you on to change and provide peace of mind in the long run. That means measuring instruments and tools must be easy to work with and make your life easier, not harder.
If you’re struggling to make sense of your business numbers, it’s time to embrace the data and take control of the narrative. If you don’t, your business will continue to run haphazardly, creating chaos and controlling the direction of your life.